By Paul Caputo

Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG is considered the best expression of Piedmont’s Ruché grape variety. Produced primarily from grapes grown around the town of Castagnole Monferrato, the growing area extends to incorporate the boundaries of Grana, Montemagno, Portacomaro, Refrancore, Scurzolengo and Viarigi, all within the Province of Asti.

At its best, Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato produces a medium bodied red wine with plenty of acidity and abundant aromas of dried flowers and wild herb. Considered an aromatic grape variety, it is known for its perfumed fragrance and primary fruit notes, a profile that should be pursued in the cellar. Although some wineries have experimented with the use of oak, there is little critical support for Ruché in this style. In recent years there has been worrying talk of introducing a Riserva category to the wine, a move that would require some time in wood and almost certainly be to the detriment of the inherent Ruché character.

Montalbera produce around 60% of the denomination’s output from roughly eighty hectares of vineyard. The rest of the production is accounted for by dozens of small producers each farming small plots of land. Although the area is traditionally associated with the Ruché grape, there is no big tradition of commercial output. Many farmers switched to the cultivation of easier varieties such as Barbera and Nebbiolo, while just as many abandoned farming altogether, taking up work in the nearby industrial sectors of Alba, Asti and Turin.